What goes through people when they decide to take their own lives ? I would never know….. I have never been there. I would never want to either. But I know something else. Grief. Grief of losing someone you cared about. Grief of losing someone you wish you knew better. Grief of losing someone you wish you had spoken with one last time before there was no more time left. Grief of losing the joyful soul of a friend untimely to the perilous hands of death. Death by suicide.
Gourab was a jolly young man. I remember my initial impression of him as the guy on whom was attached the stigma of having an year back in school. However, I would want him to be remembered for anything but that now. He not only overturned his educational problems by working hard during the time I knew him, but also always did it with a smile. A smile which made me happy. Made probably everyone he knew happy. Little did we know the happiness was hiding something far more painful than anything we could even fathom. Gourab wasn’t the first friend I had lost in my school life. I had lost another friend named Soumyadeep to leukaemia. However, this was different. And far more painful. I do not know if any philosopher has made any analogy to link age with emotional distress and pain; however, I know it for a fact that an analogy is not too far off. Or it was just the fact that Gourab’s suicide was out of the blue. Shock has that lingering memory which claws at you, asking you how things could be different. Was I close to him ? I do not know about others, but from where I am from, you do not study in a class for two of the toughest of your adolescent years and not be close. From analysing our favorite club Manchester United together to the time spent playing football after school, from playing hand cricket all through boring Chemistry hours to meeting up and discussing movies at uninteresting tuitions, he had been a quintessential friend during those years. Moving to SRM did bring a heavy toll on my social life with my friends back in Kolkata, for in trying to settle in within a culture shock and catching upto engineering I had been guilty of ignoring the people I loved the most. And that included Gourab. Two years of studying engineering passed by in a breeze, I settled down in my new life and with new friends, till a friend called me up on that fateful day to tell me Gourab had committed suicide. I would be lying if I say I ever expected something remotely similar to happen. I didn’t really know what to do. I was not shocked, not sad…..I felt nothing. I attended class as usual. Went about my day….till it was lunch break and a friend expressed gratitude for me sharing my food with him. That is when it hit me. The abyss of having lost a friend. The feelings reverberated in me till I could hold it no more. I cried. Long and hard. I didn’t know why, or what even really brought this, I just did. Gourab’s death brought me sadness. Sadness which passed but for moments of passing grief on specific days of the year. His death brought me misery which accompanies the shocking misery associated with losing loved ones. Even that passed. What didn’t pass was regret. Suicide is not accidental or biological, it is the result of constant crippling psychological trauma. And I could have been a better friend, maybe even tried to find out if everything was okay. All those busy school fests, I could have taken an evening out to call a dear friend and ask him if he was doing fine. Catch up on our shared anger at Moyes’s mishandling of ManUtd. Tell him how engineering is sapping the life out of both of us. Tell him, “Chill, It’s a burden we both are sharing, and it’s a burden we can split between us”. Explain to him by telling that ” Don’t go friend, this world is tough, and one less friend is one less shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough.” Maybe even offer my shoulder for him to vent his grief out on. Like a brother. But why would I ? Gourab was always happy, and psychological stress is hardly a problem. Till this world’s refusal to see a problem for what it is was too late, my blindness to a friend’s misery was perpetrated to an extent where it didn’t see through a facade. And when the facade fell, so did a dear friend.
Gourab is no mere friend, brother, son lost to suicide. He is one of many martyrs, who have cleared the clout in our minds surrounding mental stress and psychological illness. I will never commit suicide, and I ensure I checkup on everyone I love, telling them that they are loved, ensuring that they know they have some place to go to in order to vent, not lose it all in inevitable death. Suicide is as real a threat as HIV or Zika, but my friend taught me it can be fought……together. I loved him like a brother, and wish his soul peace. More importantly, I wish him gratitude. He left me a life where I knew that nothing could be more important that people close to you, and they could have demons like you, but far more terrifying. I will be there for them. I am sorry I couldn’t be there once. That is my demon, and I am fighting it. This is not an eulogy, it is a letter acknowledging something I have never done. Dear friend, thank you for being there, thank you in life and in death, and thank you for leaving me with a wonderful touch of perspective. And know, I miss knowing that every night I go to sleep, you are safe in some part of the globe. Goodbye dear friend. I promise I will not let what you taught me in life and in death go to waste. I promise.
– Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya
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